The Tour de France began this weekend so I just had a chat with my old friend and former guiding colleague Luca Magnoni. He and I have guided about a dozen TdF and Giro d'Italia tours together over the years so we've seen the high-energy fun first-hand, but Luca is also a strong cyclist and amateur racer so he knows much more about the cycling world than I do. Tune into my latest podcast to hear my interview with him, including some fun stories from our years on the road. Or just scroll down here for some fun pics!
The route changes every year so the towns get all dolled up when the Tour passes through. In the middle photo below you can see the four different winners' jerseys: the White Jersey is for best young rider (under-25), the Yellow Jersey is the overall winner, the Polka-dot jersey is for the best climber, and the Green Jersey is for the leader of the points classification = the best sprinter).
The route is marked with lots of these yellow signs...
I was hanging out with my U.S. flags on one of the climbs when a French photographer stopped to ask if he could take a picture. He was doing a story on foreigners who came to see the Tour:
You also meet some friendly characters on the route:
The mountain stages are usually lined with RVs and camping cars, which creates a party atmosphere:
Some people even camp out on the hillsides!
Of course, the rest of us had to bike up, which was a challenge all its own!
Fuel for the fun 😉
About an hour before the riders arrive, the publicity caravan comes through, full of fun floats that blast music and throw out random stuff (key chains, little triangles of cheese, and even laundry detergent!). Some people (ie, me 😉) get really excited:
This year's Tour features a grueling stage that goes up Mont Ventoux TWICE!
It's Stage 11, on July 7th, so tune in if you can to see this surreal but beautiful Provençal mountain. The top was deforested centuries ago so it's a barren 1,912 m (6,273 ft) of pure intimidation!
And of course, one of the best parts of seeing the Tour de France is that it's in beautiful France! ❤️
Luca doesn't guide anymore (but I bet he could be coaxed out of retirement to do another Tour de France tour 😉) and you can find him now at his Vespa & scooter rental shop in Florence: New Tuscany Scooter Rental. His Big Love will always be cycling, so when he's not in his shop you can find him out on his bike.
Here are some pics of Luca and I at work: on top of the Col du Tourmalet), the Col d'Aspin, and at right is Luca grinning ear to ear when he met champion sprinter Erik Zabel. He describes the moment in the podcast and you can hear he's still swooning! 😄
C'est tout! I hope you enjoyed your trip to France and got a feel for what it's like to see the Tour in person. I'm always happy to return to France and love the pure JOY of a Tour du Tour, so let me know if you'd like me to organize something for you and your friends. I've done tours for casual cyclists, and even for NON-cyclists, so let's talk!
If you enjoyed your tour and want to help keep my bike chain greased, you can drop a few French francs into the tip jar. You can do that here. I wish you all happy summer/winter (depending on which side of the earth you inhabit), and will see you next time... à la prochaine! 🙂